Nuclear proliferation in the Middle East: in pursuit of a regional logic
Boylan, Andrea K.
Moltz, James Clay
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Scholarly literature has emphasized the role of the regional security environment in driving nuclear proliferation following the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, few studies have examined regional nuclear dynamics. This dissertation investigates what drove proliferation trends over time in the Middle East, a conflict-ridden region. Over three time periods, representing the bipolar period (1973–1990), the unipolar period (1991–2003), and the multipolar period (2004-2013), did proliferation increase or decrease? And did system-level or regional-level factors drive the change? In contrast to mainstream arguments that nuclear proliferation was contained during the Cold War but could be expected to increase after its end, this research finds that nuclear proliferation in the Middle East increased during the Cold War period but decreased after its end. Specifically, superpower competition during the Cold War seemed to foster greater nuclear proliferation among client states. The reduction of great power competition following the end of the Cold War allowed the sole superpower, the United States, to better manage proliferation issues and strengthen existing or create new multilateral mechanisms to control these threats. In the recent, less structured multipolar environment, great powers came together to manage proliferation with their efforts bolstered by the nonproliferation regime.
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